Surviving Pat Rafter Arena: A Spectator’s Guide to the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament

6 Jan

This blog isn’t intended to put you off attending the Brisbane International, it’s a fantastic event and getting better every year. To have Williams V Azarenka in the women’s singles final and Hewitt V Federer in the men’s was unprecedented. However it’s scheduled at a hellishly hot time of the year. The January 2014 event saw the temperature hit 40 degrees celsius on Saturday January 4 during the day session for the men’s doubles semi finals and men’s singles semi finals. I watched three seated spectators keel over and be treated for heat stress. Heat stroke was a real possibility for players and spectators alike.

The catering is also ridiculously expensive. Seven dollars for a slushy?! C’mon! You can’t be serious!

Enjoying the Pat Rafter Arena experience by day takes careful planning and preparation starting with choosing your seating in the 5,700 seat covered arena. The ideal is to talk your way into corporate hospitality. Call in favours or make friends with those who have access to the air conditioned corporate glass fronted rooms and comfy seating below them and you’ll have a wonderful day. Be aware though that even some of those seats cop the late afternoon sun.

Next best is to choose your seats based on shade and breezes. I could lie and say I did just that when I bought our tickets this time around (we did score corporate seats four years ago) but actually it was dumb luck.

Take a look at the seating plan. The higher the seat the more breeze. Every seat has a decent view, but the only blocks that don’t cop the sun are 206-208, 305-308, 312 and 313. The sunshine sneaks under the roof and creeps right across the court.

Our seats were second to back row R302 and R303 and back row S401 and 492 and whilst we sweltered we didn’t have direct sun. I actually prefer the top row as you have more freedom to move, stand, there’s greater scope for people watching and you get maximum breeze. I’ll tell you about the crazy Federer fanatic another time.



Pre-purchased tickets include free public transport. The stadium is a ten minute walk from Yeerongpilly Train Station so getting there and away is easy.

Now to preparation. This was our ‘keep cool and hydrated kit’:
A sun hat to wear getting to and from and venue and outside the arena.
A 1.5 litre bottle of frozen water per person. By the time you get to the arena it will have melted enough to drink. Bottled water costs AUD3 for 500ml and that’s discounted from AUD5. There is a water fountain but the queue can be long. Doors stay closed during play so you can end up waiting a long time for the break in play to re-enter.
Go easy on the alcohol, beers start at AUD8.50 and alcohol is super dehydrating.
A spray bottle of frozen water to spray yourself with. Add a few drops of floral essence to make it even more pleasant. I like lavender but lemon or tea tree are refreshing too.
A scarf or large handkerchief to wet and apply to neck or head. Keep it wet with the spray bottle.
A hand held fan.
Panadol in case you end up with a dehydration head ache despite these precautions.

Suncorp sponsors a sunsafe campaign, there are pump bottles of sun screen around the stadium.

Take your own food unless you love expensive fish and chips and hot dogs. Management imposes restrictions on what you can take in though…..quite a few restrictions, some quite odd….

Prohibited Items:

“For the comfort and safety of patrons and players the following items are not allowed into the Queensland Tennis Centre:

Alcohol; animals except service animals (e.g. seeing eye dogs); any item that could be used as a weapon; beach balls and other inflatable devices, audio recorders; bicycles, scooters, skateboards and roller-blades/skates; camera tripods, monopods, telephoto camera lenses with a focal length capacity of greater than 200 mm; video cameras and handy-cams; drink and food cans; chairs and stools; eskies and hampers; fireworks; frisbees; helium balloons; glass (including bottles); large containers in excess of 1.5 litres; flags, banners or signs larger than 1.2 m wide or with handles longer than 50 cm in length; musical instruments and/or amplification equipment; unauthorised advertising or marketing material or flyers; laser pointers, distress signals, whistles or loud hailers; dangerous goods and any other item prohibited by legislation.

Note: prams and strollers are not permitted in seating areas.”

Having experienced all the Grand Slams except for Flushing Meadow (roll on August 2015!) I rate the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament tickets as good value for money. AUD193 per person for both the men’s semis and final plus the men’s doubles semis and finals with free transport made for a fantastic weekend. To see Lleyton Hewitt outplay Roger Federer in my home town was gold!

Here are a few moments from a memorable weekend of tennis.

A finals fan with split loyalties.


I cheered for the Colombian pair in the finals. They fought well but went down in three.

The Fed is in the building!



Who gives a toss? For the record Roger won and chose to serve then lost the first game….




Federer changed shirts three times during the match to the delight of many of us.

The partisan crowd led by ‘The Fanatics’ nearly lifted the roof off with chants and cheers for ‘Rusty’ Hewitt and when Rod Laver awarded the trophy to Hewitt we knew we were witnessing history.


3 Responses to “Surviving Pat Rafter Arena: A Spectator’s Guide to the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament”

  1. Julie Kempnich January 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Hi Sharon At Airport about to fly to Lyon for 4 nights, then on to Courchavel for our week of skiing. After that, 3 nights in Seville! Russ and I ( and Stephen) haven’t been to Spain before, so it will all be so new. You certainly have all the tips for tennis spectating in Bris, so wondered if you would mind offering us a few ‘ tips for novices to get the most out of their short stay in Seville’. Maybe a recommendation for a flamenco ,nightclub or show?? Good eats., good accommodation….we haven’t booked that far ahead yet. We will be moving around Andalucia, and including two nights in Marbella where Tiffany’s parents have been retired for a while. Have to fly,,,literally. Merci beaucoup Julie xx

    Sent from my iPad .

    • Sharon Tickle January 6, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

      Hi Julie,

      What a great trip! Should be fairly quiet in Seville so no big crowds to contend with.

      My advice is to start with Casa de la Memoria de Andaluz Scroll down the page to see the English info. On pages not translated click the google translate icon on the side bar to get English.

      It’s located in a central part of the downtown Seville: Calle Cuna número 6 (6, Cuna Street). It is for tourists but the show is the highest quality in Seville, equal with Museo del baile Flamenco which also does shows nearly every day. I just prefer C de la M. Museo has a raised stage.

      Show Times: (There is a show every day)
      19:30 pm to 20:30 pm
      21:00 pm to 22:00 pm
      22:30 pm to 23:30 pm (Only some days)

      All the artists are excellent. This is their bread and butter. No atmospher though as most if the audience are first timers and don’t know how to show appreciation for flamenco. They won’t say anything about the show exceot no video and photos only at end. You get a vical and guitar piece, female solo, guitar piece, male solo then the short fin de fiesta with both dancers.

      If you are in town in the morning go to the theatre and buy the tickets for the show time that day or next day that suits you. It will be the same show repeated. Don’t worry, they give 100% each time. Queue for the show 30mins early to get front row seats so you can see the footwork.

      If people enjoy it and want to see more then try to see a free show at T de Triana in Triana, 20 calle Betis, Triana, the street that runs right by the river near the Isobel II bridge. They usually do free shows at about ten or ten thirty pm on Tuesday and often Thursday nights. They have a facebook page but has not been active since October. It’s a great bar with tapas and you can sit right next to the small stage if you order food, otherwise you end up standing.

      Can’t find their tel number but it is worth stopping by as you stroll Triana to check the chalk board outside and have a beer. Singers and guitarists are established but dancers are emerging artists and many of them fantastic. Atmosphere is more interesting and can be rowdy in a good way.

      Don’t go to la Carboneria……

      If you want more then my favourite tablao (dinner style seating with optional food and drink in cheapest ticket) is El Arenal. More expensive but a longer show with great dancers (except for maybe one exception). It’s near the bull ring

      My friend La Chica is also in a newer show. I will check to see what she is doing and write again.

      Buen viaje mi amiga!


    • Sharon Tickle January 6, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

      Julie, Will send accommodation and other suggestions by email.


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